Der Herr ist mein Hirte

Predigtreihe zur Passionszeit über Psalm 23 / Following the words of Psalm 23 through the time of Lent

Seit bald einem Jahr ist uns Verzicht auferlegt: Verzicht auf Teile des Einkommens für viele von uns, Verzicht auf soziale Kontakte und Reisen, Verzicht auf Nähe und Kultur, beschränkter Aktionsradius auf 5km seit nunmehr zwei Monaten. Deswegen soll dieses Jahr in der Passionszeit nicht Verzicht und Leid im Mittelpunkt unserer Gottesdienste stehen, sondern etwas Ermutigendes. Da bietet sich Psalm 23 an. Vertraute Worte, die viele von uns auswendig können. Bis einschließlich Ostern lassen wir uns von diesen alten Worten inspirieren. Mehr zum ersten Vers findet ihr unterhalb des Fotos, das vor ein paar Monaten in den Wicklow Mountains am Turlough Hill entstanden ist.

Der Herr ist mein Hirte: Ein guter Hirte geht hinter seinen Schafen her und überlässt ihnen Freiheit und Kompetenz. Der gute Hirte gibt die grobe Richtung vor und greift nur in Extremfällen ein. Das macht Gott, etwa mit den 10 Geboten oder dem Liebesgebot Jesu. Das Bild vom guten Hirten hat mit Vertrauen zu tun. Interessant ist, dass im Psalm 22 das genaue Gegenteil benannt wird: Mein Gott, mein Gott, warum hast du mich verlassen, heißt es da. Gottverlassenheit und Vertrauen in Gottes Kraft liegen oft sehr nah beieinander in unserem Leben. Gerade in einer Pandemie kennen viele von uns diese “Achterbahn” des Glaubens. Beides gilt es, wahrzunehmen. Möge Jesu Wort, dass er selbst der gute Hirte ist, der sein Leben lässt für die Schafe, uns ermutigen, immer wieder zurückzufinden zum Gottvertrauen.

On hold

A short message on this rainy Friday, 19th February:

  • The Irish government just announced another 9 weeks of hard lockdown (that means, for instance: flights to the continent nearly impossible, hotel quarantine at your expense if coming from several destinations, still only 5km radius from home, and more fines to come if you breach the law). It’s sad to see the government has no other idea for the people to live with the pandemic. Vaccination centers are announced, but the program hasn’t started yet – only in hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The homepage of our Church has some difficulties – you might have noticed the Sunday service are back in December, and the email isn’t working properly. In case of any difficulties with emails, please use or instead.

Live is on hold, and for many of us this is really tough. But life isn’t always easy. Don’t loose the hope and the perseverance!

By the way: what a nice coincidence that the Mars robot mission with it’s successful landing (yesterday) is called Perseverance (I found it absolutely fascinating that modern technology is able to manage such a landing)!

Meeting people abroad

There is a longing of traveling and meeting people as there are so many conferences, lectures and even private journeys cancelled since one year.

But this week I was happy about two very interesting meetings on Zoom. This is the good outcome of a pandemic: Technology makes meetings happen.

The first one: On Tuesday 2nd February, I followed the invitation of Kairos Ireland to listen to Dr. Munthar Isaac, Lutheran Pastor at the Christmas Church in Bethlehem/Palestine: He spoke about “Reading the Bible as a Palestinian Christian” with very good biblical insights that have the potential to lead the discussion about Palestine’s future into a shared-land-policy.

The second “journey” brought me to Scotland yesterday, 4th February: It was the first UN International Day of Human Fraternity. Great honor for me: The Lutheran Church in Ireland hosted a talk with Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi from Scotland on behalf of Dublin City Interfaith Forum und Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association:
Uplifting and touching talk with lot of hope. Imam Sayed was one of the four Imams who met Pope Francis in 2017 to build a better relationship between Islam and Christianity.

Christmas as it has never been before

Christmas 2020: The Church doors kept close. The church council decided to cancel all services in the church due to the rising number of COVID-cases. Nearly nobody saw the beautiful Christmas tree and the crib there. So we celebrated only online – two services on 24th and one on 25th December. But it was not only sad. We had a beautiful nativity play, done by several families online. We experienced a new type of cathedrals: Beside the eternal cathedral of God in heaven and the beautiful cathedrals on earth our living rooms became new cathedrals.

The most important message of this Christmas was the angel’s voice:

Do not be afraid!

The Star of Bethlehem

We saw the “Star of Bethlehem” 🙂 Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction. Today, 20th December 2020, Phoenix Park, Dublin. Freezing cold. Met familiar people there – Dublin is small 😉

And there are some nice pictures, nothing professional, but exciting as we have seen it with our own eyes.

It is an extraordinary Christmas this year indeed. Maybe Christmas at home and online only, as the number of COVID cases is rising quickly.

We are connected

Even the deepest crisis has its nice and touching moments. Moving all services and gatherings into the internet creates a new way of connectivity.

A good example are the Sunday Services of my church: Since a while and until Christmas each Service is dedicated to one of our eight smaller communities or an ecumenical partner.

This is new and wouldn’t be possible with “regular” services.

All following pictures are screenshots from recent services on youtube, coming from Galway, Westmeath, Cork, Glencree/Wicklow, our Garden and Belfast

Back in lockdown

Since 22 October Ireland is back in lockdown, for six month! The impact for our church isn’t too big as church services in Dublin are not allowed since mid of September. Movement is allowed for 5 kilometers, schools remain open and “essential” travel is allowed.

Well, we enjoy the beauty of the neighborhood: This is St. Stephen’s Green

All our services are online (Youtube and Zoom). If you would like being on the list to get the links, please write an email.

There is a longing of being together like in the “old days” because there was nearly no church service without a tea and coffee and a chat afterwards, or in some cases even a shared dinner! Community with god and community among us, this belongs together. Now we have only the internet.

But look, the good thing is we are now connected through huge distances: People from all over Ireland and even from foreign countries are celebrating with us the Sunday service and attend zoom meetings. During the short period in August when the church was open, we made first interesting experiences with hybrid services.

My impression is for young people it is a really tough time: Children would like to play together and the youth asked me several times about a weekend and or so, but all this is not feasible at the moment.

So we have to walk our way through this time – and St. Finian’s Church is there, a sign of hope, waiting for us and promising a new time of getting together.

St Finian’s Roof refurbishment: West side completed

After exciting five weeks the roof is completed now. Finnja, the church mouse, was on top of it, the pic shows her before the roofers fixed the cast iron ridge elements.

To visit Finnja’s diary, click here:

Well, some good news: No huge difficulties occurred (no rotten timber), so the raised money was enough for an insulation of this part of the roof as well. Second good news: The first Euros are donated to move on with the eastern part of the roof. THANK YOU VERY MUCH to all who gave a smaller or bigger amount of money, including the EKD and Dublin City Council. And a big THANK YOU to 7L-Architects and Barbary Roofing Company for high quality work.

And look at that: details how the slates meet the gable.